Try th­ese tips to keep your im­mune sys­tem in peak con­di­tion this win­ter.

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - FEATURES -

Choose healthy fer­mented foods

Kom­bucha, ke­fir, sauer­kraut, kim­chi and pro­bi­otic-rich yo­ghurt con­tain bac­te­ria and yeasts to help re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and boost gut bac­te­ria growth.

Start with 1–2 ta­ble­spoons daily and grad­u­ally in­crease. Turn to page 63 for tasty meal ideas us­ing fer­mented foods.

Drink cof­fee wisely

Cof­fee con­tains caf­feine, which changes the bal­ance of bac­te­ria in your gut. Cof­fee con­tains nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring sol­u­ble fi­bre and phe­no­lic com­pounds that are food for gut bac­te­ria. But don’t overdo it, and drink plenty of wa­ter and herbal teas.

Man­age stress

Stress in­flu­ences your gut bac­te­ria, and the growth of cer­tain types of bac­te­ria has been linked to a higher risk of anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion. Man­ag­ing your stress can be one step to­wards im­prov­ing your gut health and im­mu­nity.

Al­though no stud­ies have yet looked at the im­pact of stress man­age­ment on changes in gut bac­te­ria growth, yoga has been found to be as ef­fec­tive as a low-FODMAP diet in man­ag­ing the symp­toms of ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS).

Mind the fat

A high-fat, West­ern-style diet of take­away, fried food and pas­tries re­duces a bac­terium which plays a big part in low­er­ing in­flam­ma­tion by mak­ing changes to im­mune cells. So choose health­ier fats, like av­o­cado, nuts, ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil and oily fish.

Fi­bre is your gut’s favourite food, so load up on veg, fruit & nuts

Go for oily fish

Reg­u­lar omega-3 fats from oily fish, like salmon, are great for your gut bac­te­ria. Omega­3 from fish oils act as an anti­in­flam­ma­tory to help pre­vent heart dis­ease and ease the pain of arthri­tis.

It now ap­pears that omega­3s also work to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion in the gut by en­cour­ag­ing or dis­cour­ag­ing the growth of cer­tain bac­te­ria.

Avoid ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers

Many ‘diet’ and ‘sugar-free’ prod­ucts have ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers, such as man­ni­tol and sor­bitol, which are known to change gut bac­te­ria.

In fact, if you have IBS and are also fol­low­ing a low­FODMAP diet, th­ese sweet­en­ers can cause bloat­ing and other gut symp­toms.

Cut back on al­co­hol

Al­co­hol can in­crease the growth of cer­tain bac­te­ria that may cause in­creases in bac­te­rial tox­ins in­side your gut. Al­co­hol can also in­crease in­flam­ma­tion. Spir­its may do more gut dam­age than wine or beer, and the amount and fre­quency of al­co­hol in­take def­i­nitely plays a part in the level of gut dam­age. You should aim for no more than two stan­dard drinks a day.

Eat more fi­bre

Fi­bre is your gut’s favourite food, so try to in­crease your in­take of fruit, ve­g­ies, nuts and whole grains. Much of the fi­bre is found in the skin of fruit and veg­eta­bles, so leave the skin on wher­ever pos­si­ble. Legumes, such as beans, chick­peas and lentils, are an­other good source of fi­bre for your gut.

The bac­te­ria in your gut di­gest fi­bres to pro­duce short­chain fatty acids, which can help to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and pro­tect against colon can­cer.

Sub­tract some ad­di­tives

Emul­si­fiers are ad­di­tives mainly mixed with liq­uids that would not bond nat­u­rally — such as salad dress­ings or may­on­naise — to sta­bilise them. Some­times chem­i­cals are used as emul­si­fiers, and there is some ev­i­dence that th­ese types of emul­si­fiers can cause gaps in the gut lin­ing.

Choose whole foods and try to avoid packet foods as much as pos­si­ble to help to re­duce your in­take of emul­si­fiers.

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